What Will Happen to NFL Futures Bets if the Regular-Season Schedule Changes?
Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Roger Goodell
In case you missed it — what with all the excitement in today’s sports world — the NFL released its regular-season schedule last week.
As it always does, the release included opponents for all 17 weeks (16 games plus a bye), plus each team’s four preseason matchups and dates. But compared to previous seasons, this year’s release is especially subject to change.
With the unknown variable of the COVID-19 virus, a typical 16-game regular season schedule is certainly not a forgone conclusion. In fact, Darren Rovell reported last month that some teams were modeling out a scenario in which teams would play just 14 regular season games, pushing back the opening kickoff to October.
The uncertainty leaves bettors to question what will happen to their pending NFL futures if the season undergoes any changes.
What Happens to NFL Futures if the Schedule Changes?
The short, and somewhat frustrating answer, is that it depends on the type of bet, and that there are some cases in which no one really knows yet. I mean, we don’t know what the modified schedule would look like (or if it’s even going to be needed), so sportsbooks can’t really know for sure how they’ll proceed with some futures until that point.
This was the easiest bet type to gauge, as it’s the one that would be most affected by a shortened season with different opponents.
Both FanDuel and PointsBet already include provisions in their win-total betting menu that 16 games must be played in order for bets to count. I’d assume that would be true for most, if not all, other sportsbooks as well (the other options would be to convert the total to a percentage, or keep the bet at whatever new total was set, neither of which seems like a more likely or fair option than a simple cancellation).
Super Bowl/Conference/Division Futures
Here’s where we start to get into a bit of gray area.
A schedule change would be unlikely to have a great impact on these futures that involve just picking a winner (rather than betting on a quantity, like number of wins), but again, since we don’t know for sure what could happen to the market, most sportsbooks have been consistent in saying that such bets will remain open until there’s further guidance from the league’s governing body.
These bets seem to have a pretty good chance (relatively) of remaining open regardless of schedule changes.
Similar to their response to win totals, both FanDuel and PointsBet have made it clear that season-long over/under player props would require a full 16-game season to stand, which, again, I’d imagine would be the market standard.
Player futures (awards, etc.) would likely be treated in a similar manner to Super Bowl/Conference/Division futures, meaning they’d probably remain open unless the league’s decision gives reason for a major market shift.
Other Futures Types
Bets on teams to make or miss the playoffs would still stand at FanDuel and PointsBet under a shortened season, though they will be void if there are not seven playoff teams per conference.
Team-record props, such as “most regular season wins/losses” or “a team to go undefeated/winless” would require a full 16-game season as per the rules at FanDuel and PointsBet.